Sunbelt Bakery Blueberry: $2/Racetrac

sunbelt_blueberry (6)Growing up we had Showbiz Pizza, Chuck E. Cheese, and random mom & pop arcades for a kids’ “play place.” Now there are joints with trampoline walls, slides, bouncies, ball pits, inflatable (hopefully inflammable too, since that’s the word that my eyes just auto-corrected it to) spinning pirate ships, 2-story shark slides, knock-off unlicensed Disney or Nickelodeon inspired characters, all in a safe-entry shoeless industrial space at a reasonable price. I recently surprised Joanna and Louise with a morning visit to a nearby Kids Up by telling them that we were running booooring errands; Joanna’s expression when I pulled into the Kids Up parking lot was priceless. Letting the two girls loose on the fishy and nautical-themed jumpies, climbies and slidies in their sockie-wockies (we’ve learned our lesson – don’t want to be forced to purchase $2-$3 cheap-ass quality socks just to get in) and I was able to relax and catch up on part 3 of Justin Cronin’s viral series. Just as their socks are over-priced, so are the concessions, so despite the stink-eye that I received from one of the young staffers who caught me trying to ninja a bite of my Sunbelt Bakery Blueberry bar, I respectfully followed their “no outside food or beverages” rule and after one ninja nibble, put the bar back in my pocket and ordered a weak Kuerig cup of coffee and a bag of Goldfish crackers.

That one bite that I had was good but nothing so remarkable that it parted oceans or made waves. If the wrapper was red instead of blue, I’d almost be convinced that it was Sunbelt’s strawberry bar, they’re both so similar in look, taste, texture and berryness. Digesting my one Sunbelt bite, sipping a pitiful coffee and popping Goldfish in my mouth, I was surprised to see two of Kids Up staff begin moving all of the play equipment out of reach in the toddler area and start mopping and dusting. This was right when the place opened on a weekend morning, cleaning that one would think would’ve been taken care of at closing. The staff gave all of the children slip-sliding on the dampened floor sidelong glances and shrugged their shoulders noncommentally when myself, and several other parents asked whether or not we should vacate the area. It just reminded me of when I worked in retail and would sometimes try to unravel the vacuum cord 5 minutes before closing and a person shopping would give me that sidelong snark eye, which, looking back on, I would’ve deserved if I had turned on the vacuum before actually closing. But the Kids Up clean-up was just unusual that it was taking place at opening when there were little-bitty feets skipping and tromping around. (Later in the day, when I was home and finishing the Sunbelt Blueberry bar, Tom asked me if maybe a child had thrown up or something that would’ve required an immediate cleaning, and I said nope, the staff was just on regular ol’ mop and dust maintenance.) I encouraged Louise to depart the toddler octopus carousel and join Joanna on the big kid sharks and ladders and other oceanic mazes. A sea of blue indoor play-place activities where I can drink bad coffee and read in relative peace for a little while, even if I can’t finish my bar, is a morning success for me. And it inspired me to make fish for dinner. 3/5

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